I dislike the vast majority of players I have heard. I don't think it's the medium because the good ones are very enjoyable.. I suspect it's down to the power supplies. I tend to have liked the better made ones I've owned and heard, with the exception of Marantz, which are just too bright and hard for me.
Anyway, I thought it would be good to have a thread whe we could recommende the players we have enjoyed. Of course we will have varying likes and dislikes, but that's half the fun!
Glare is my biggest hatred when it comes to CD players. Take it as read that any player I like will be glare free, I have zero tolerance of it and I cannot fathom how anyone can put up with it.
Karik III is an exceptionally tidy and detailed player. I haven't owned one but a mate brought one round for an expended listen. I had an Arcam Delta 170 and Black Box 1 or 2 at the time, they were known for being less abrasive than most, yet thenKarik III made them sound pretty ragged and lacking in resolution.
I have had Karik 1s and 2s in my system for longer but they are different to the III. Still nice players with good timing, but a bit too "tightened" for me to love them. Well built too. I'd still fancy a Numerik DAC but they go for more than I'd pay right now.
That's a lot of favs Westie. My favourite was an AudioResearch CD5, now that could really be called musical. I owned a Densen 400XS having dem'ed against Naim cdp's and that is why I owned a Densen. My present one is a Project RS Box with LPSU into a Calyx 22/192 dac which I am very happy with.
Andrew and Shane, I do feel you're possibly living in the past here. 'Digital' got sorted by the late 80's and by the early 90's there were some wonderful top Jap machines which had power, scale and a sense of 'rightness' (I'm comparing to master recordings and pro DACs here) that Naim and Meridian couldn't touch. Meridian changed the innards every few months and I lost respect for anything they do decades ago I'm afraid - two 506's a year apart, one sounding ripe and thick toned and the other rather lean and toppy/relentless..
I have two old Denon machines here, one a solidly built 1520 with the rapid-sled Sony mech as used in their better ES models I gather and the other a once £300 1015 model I was given which despite a cheaper build and simple circuit board, *sounds* as good and makes a wonderful transport too. The 1520 doesn't like CD-R's now and I've tried to clean the lens as best I can.
I loved the Copland players and the 288 remains a favourite. The 266 was precise and the 289 built on that. I lost touch after...
The only Naim CD players I had any time for were the rather excellent CDS-2 and original CD-I. The others were hobbled somehow to not be as 'good' and the CD-X's were harsh as anything...
I love my Micro Seiki CD-M2, but accept some of the musical qualities may come from some distortion added in the output transformers. the original 'Marantz-spec' analogue outs are ok if the cables have a clip-on ferrite attached (long story) but the machine sounds like a pimped up CD-94 (which it is) otherwise... Adding a third party clock and ferrites to a CD94 still isn't quite the sae though.
Rega's basic CD players need a 47k input loading and a 'Couple' style interconnect to be properly 'voiced.' Otherwise the Planet and many Apollo's can sound flat and 2-D compared to how it can be.. the Saturn is what I normally gravitate to on my visits to my dealer pal and when he had a Valve Isis, I have to say it was something special. Nobody in the UK wanted these expensive machines and matching amps, so they got sold off cheap by many dealers who couldn't sell them it seems
While I'm still in school-ma'am mode (sorry). I have to give a shout out to the eBay DAC-for-a-fiver when powered via a reasonable linear supply. In most respects it's so damned good (no third party 'designer botching' to ruin it with over complication) it puts some of these 'audiophool' players to shame. Do please remember that the casework costs rather more than the electronics inside with Top End stuff and if you're willing to compromise on visual 'poshness' I think you can get a wonderful sound.
Back when 'digital' was thought of as too toppy and lean, AVI began making CD players and despite the crudeness of the home-programmed operation ergonomics, the 'sound' of the machine was excellent. Eleven regulated supplies right next to the bits that needed it (not in a separate box with a caravan umbilical to join them together) and the best Philips transport for performance/tracking ever made (CD-M9 engine which performed better than the heavy cast CD-M1 in mine). Smooth and beefy sound. Tim de P did some mpds to one by changing the output caps and the op amps used and the one I heard made the sound thin and almost screaming (not the same as master recordings with which I'd compared the stock model favourably).
Gawd, do you want me to keep posting here? I can't help it and experiences/memories flood out.
That's so much to cover, so I will perhaps take it in stages, cos there's lots that interests me,
I really like the CDI most out of the Naims listed, although I still hanker for the CDS mk1 and will get one when the right opportunity comes along. I liked the CDX but the Copland saw it off, which did surprise me.
I have tried newer Japanese payers but they still leave me cold, I'm afraid. I think it's just different hearing/tastes. I know you like things like the QED digit, which I think are dreadful, even with twin positron. Marantz CD94 was the most abrasive player I have owned, until I bought a CD80! But then so much else we agree on, like the CDI and Rega players with "couple" just gelling.
We live far too far apart, but I would have loved to have met up and tried some of the different bits we have often talked about. Just to see if it's a matter of different tastes or just the variance of a different room, electrics, sample variation, partnering gear or maybe something else. I've disagreed with my own conclusions about lots of bits when I've used them again in a different room and setup. I try to take nothing for granted these days
I'll end with one such "disagreement" with myself that may make you smile. I had a Denon 1520 when they were current. Although I liked it, there was still a large gap between it and my LP12/Ekos/OC9 in terms of drive, power, presence and rhythm. I went shopping and listened to a PDM1 series 2 and Meridian 203, using the Denon as a transport. The DPA walked it and I bought one. I loved the thing and it really closed the gap to a point where I didn't care which medium I used.
I changed gear as usual and cannot even remember what I had. I "upgraded" to an Arcam transport, but it wasn't as good as the Denon. I tried the Denon on its own and in the "new" system it was better than the Arcam/DPA and also better on its own than when paired with the DPA.
A final irony happened many years later when I had a Meridian 200/203. I bought another PDM1 series 2 and the Meridian I had dismissed many years ago was clearly better in my new setup!
I'm using original master recordings as a memory , not a vinyl player reproducing already compressed vinyl cuts as a reference you see. Did you hear a QED Digit with twin Positron-size supplies? It's a rather different and livelier sounding animal to the slushbox basic version I assure you and mine came with the standard 12V transformer as well as a Positron which is clearly better, even as one supply! Adding the second made a substantial difference for the better, and the second supply I'm using is a Beresford Caiman one kindly gifted by Stan B and used through an S-Booster. Cable ferrites aplenty too on these power lines...
The CD-S mk1 is a very coloured and un-natural beastie to me and others not brainwashed when at Studio 99 and on a decent system, even a Linn and Naim one, we found the sonic processing it suffered from was easy to hear - we had access to many brands the outlying Linn-Naim dealers wouldn't have and what clinched it was first being loaned a Sony 1610 pro A-D-A processer which was sonically invisible if wired through a tape loop (it was the early digital editors that seriously caused the damage) and a magnificent Linn Numerik Pro DAC, which a colleague was totally converted to digital by, hence our getting in touch with Absolute Sounds to try a few things our Naimie sales director didn't want to know about and refused to let the shop stock, much to the eventual decline of this company which folded in the late 90's after he took over! The CDS-2 was a different thing entirely and despite a very slightly 'creamy' delivery, to me it just totally got out if the way and was system immune too - a rare thing in my experience, the mechanics of CD playback disappearing completely. A Linn CD12 was staggeringly good in a wide open system, but sounded total pants into a little Denon stack system, where the CDS-2 delivered some power and scale into such a system I remember. The CD94 abrasive? I heard many samples and they're bland if anything. A now deceased friend of mine had a CD 80 and it's a goodie too, but probably would benefit from a clock update as my Micro Seiki did twenty years ago now - eek! I was lucky working in the dealers I did as I got to hear various players in many different systems over the years so I feel I was able to get a basic picture of their overall performance and not just one sample in one given stereo system... What seriously ages me in fact are speakers, as some tinselly filling-removing models seem to mellow down after twenty or more years of rock music thrashing
The LP12/Ekos/OC9 may well have sounded good to you, but in so many ways it's a long way from the master recording! Sorry, I use this as an old memory reference and there's a 'way' the masters sound that few domestic vinyl players approach, although the heavyweights with a good singing Decca or properly sorted MC will come very close in my experience - Things like DL103's and SPU's have great 'stability' to the image presented, but they don't have the bite and sparkle there in the original recording. I'm probably a lone voice here. Bass power in vinyl is largely a colouration I think, as bass is actually taken down in level and the remaining mono'd when typical commercial records are cut. AT's moving coils often show the upper mid emphasis that's really there - and their spiced up highs are perfect for softer grade Japanese vinyl I gather, which softens the sound more than harder types I'm informed.
In the late 80's, a few firms tried to make digital sound like 'vinyl,' and the dull squidgy sonics was awful into a good system. The 1983 CB Naim and 'brik system I loved to hear on vinyl ended up sounding good with cartridges with a bass up/top down balance (Rega R100 and later, a Karma) and anything 'flat' sounded too bright through them.
I deeply miss the ATC 100A's I once had. At more realistic volumes (anti-social to everyone else), any source colouration was ruthlessly revealed, yet with a good vinyl source with cleaner bass reproduction, they were excellent (surprisingly for me at the time). I used the Mentor/Decca Microscanner and Dual 701/V15 VMR and a good friend with ATC 50A's had an LP12/Ittok/OC9 and a Linn Kairn as preamp (he replaced it with e better sounding 5103 av preamp set to stereo but not sure as to the phono stage).
I can't 'use only my ears' as my ears can change daily. I was so lucky then to have such good sources and master tape copies to try to use as a reference. best CD's used to be simple masterings of classic 50's jazz albums (often recorded in the US), where the recording was simply done with no compression or undue messing around and the digital dubbing was straight with minimal messing too.
See, if the Denon 1520 wasn't as 'driven' I'd look at the system to find out why (bear with me). I feel the 1520 inverts the phase and into the downstairs Spendor BC2's which have issues still (they're not fully original sadly as the bass drivers are later spec from SA2's and not quite the same), the absolute phasing seemed critical when compared to the Micro (easy to alter on the Micro by re-wiring the interconnect XLR plugs). In the upstairs workroom system and with my Crown and NVA amps, I can't tell the difference!
I had a PDM1 mk2 and it needed a mains filter (Croft 4A one in my case) to remove the edgy dirt (the Deltec one was too expensive and Crofty did a great one cheaper). I used it at length with various players borrowed from work as transports until I played with a Teac VRDS 10 (great transport but not as good sounding), a Marantz CD 10 (too sickly sounding and odd on piano tone) and finally the AVI, which was up to a 'good' Karik/Numerik standard (these latter varied all the time as well).
The above is just me prattling on and sharing memories, nothing more. I'd seriously urge any of you to try the cheapo 'fiver' DAC with £40 Chinese linear supply that RD and I often use - it's seriously good despite the cheapo tin box it comes in
Length of posts is never off-putting to me. I always enjoyed Pinkie's posts, so yours are nothing more than "headlines" in comparison. Sometimes a long post is great to re-read because there's so much content you miss it first time.
I did try the twin positron Digit but it still wasn't "right" to me. This is where it gets hard to describe because I still have the sound signature in my head but describing it means using words that may resonate differently to others, if only we could just show each other, eh!
I guess it sounded bandwidth limited and recessed/shut in to me. I really like a bit of "blood and thunder" and a big bold sound, although I dislike harshness and can't abide hardness. The QED reminded me of the Micromega Microdac in many ways.
I have no real idea how we all perceive sound, but I suspect it's a bit like the research they have done on facial/body shape recognition and perceptions of beauty. People look for a handful of "indicators" and make judgements on those. Of course those indicators vary from person to person, although there are many common elements,
In the same way, don't believe we take in the entire sound. Some elements stick out to us and either fire us up with pleasure or pain. Maybe some sounds don't fire up enough of either passion to move us and are perhaps thought of as bland.
I'd agree with you about the colour of the LP12/Ekos, especially the Valhalla version I had. It was definitely "flavoured" compared to the DPA. This came out in that it was more enjoyable than the DPA on some recordings and fell,flat on others. I was using Kans too, so they bring their own voice to the party too. I completely accept that Kans give you their version of music, rather than attempting to let the recording through. It takes a bit of adjusting to though, because they can be a real shock until you re-learn their dialect (lingo?). Suffice to say they are about as "marmite" as anything I've heard.
I'd like to hear another 1520 (or even a 3520) someday. It was a beautiful,player to own, handle and use. Hearing it perform well in a subsequent system certainly left me open to its sound. I have owned a few cheaper Denon players over the years too, and I have always found them enjoyable, reliable and nice to use.
On the subject of the Marantz 80 and 94, I think this may be a good case for the theory that we each only take to or reject certain elements of the sound rather than its entirety. Or it could be language we use to describe perception. Maybe my "abrasive" isn't everyone else's. To me, both models just seemed to harden the strands of the music and make them collide with each other in a real cacophony. It's all there, but not in any form I can relax to. It reminds we of when my wife puts on her American sitcom Boxsets. All I ever hear are raised voices, emphasised delivery and canned laughter all colliding! At the same time she sits there enthralled and goes with the flow.
We mentioned this idea of "suspension of disbelief" in previous chats. To me the way sounds seem to compete and clash with many Marantz players make them so unbearable I could never hope to relax and so my brain instantly rejects them.
Apologies to others reading if I appear to ramble. How we hear is such an under-discussed topic on forums because it so often gets people upset when others have their own "truth" that doesn't match. I think there's a lot to be learned which can only help us all in understanding what we like and why. Also in cutting others some slack when they appear to hate the things we love and vice versa.
Nah, it's almost certainly Aspergers. My life's interest/obsession has been music and the means of reproducing it ever since I was a tot. I can memorise this stuff and experiences and easily regurgitate it to fellow HiFi people decades on, but anything else I forget in seconds - ask my wife!!!!! I don't 'do' small-talk either and am too lazy to be an academic in any shape or form!
'Never quite said what I wanted to say to you Never quite managed the words to explain to you Never quite knew how to make them believable ..And now the time has gone, Another time undone...'
I always thought academics excelled at laziness That's what set me off in that direction in my late 20s, but I excelled too much at the laziness bit!
As for memory, my wife thinks I have some sort of dementia these days because mine is so bad. It's only lists I can't remember though. If I go shopping, I reach the store and constantly forget what I'm there for. I ask her and she tells me. Then just a few seconds later I have to ask again. Sometimes this happens multiple times. It's always been bad but lately it's become truly defective. There is an easy solution though: Dont go shopping!